A Mental Health Guide: Staying Positive During COVID-19

By Krithi Sekaran

It’s no surprise that we’re living in strange times. With social isolation, community lockdowns, and overwhelming health advisories dominating our daily lives, most of us are immersed in an unfamiliar world. And with any difficult situation, often comes a string of unwanted emotions. Whether it be anxiety, depression, or fear, it’s only natural to come face-to-face with negative thoughts and feelings at a time like this. So, how should we deal with them?

Here are 6 tips to keep your feelings in check during quarantine:

Meditate

You’ve probably heard the word countless times over the past few weeks, but it’s encouraged because it truly is effective. If practiced regularly, meditation can do wonders for your mental health, fostering a peaceful, calm, and focused mindset. It’s an especially useful habit during a time like this, when combating negative emotions is key. 

Luckily, meditation guides and tutorials are easily accessible on your phone or computer. Apps like Calm and Headspace offer 90-second or 2-minute breathing and mind exercises led by instructors. These meditation segments are focused on helping you sleep better, stay relaxed, reduce anxiety, and more. Such apps also offer “mindful music” and other sound bites, such as rainfall and ocean waves, that help put your mind at rest. Plenty of instructor-driven meditation guides are also available on YouTube for you to easily follow along to. 

“Meditation can do wonders for your mental health, fostering a peaceful, calm, and focused mindset.”

Sitting still for so long may initially seem strange and unnatural, but the more you practice, the more results you will see. Putting aside just 10 minutes per day for meditation is highly recommended. 

Socialize (virtually)

Though it can be difficult to stay connected with one another while practicing social isolation, keeping ties strong with our loved ones is crucial to staying happy. It can be easy to coop ourselves up at home in our own little bubbles, but reaching out to others can help battle feelings of depression and anxiety.  

We may not be able to meet face-to-face with many of our loved ones anymore, but virtual interaction is always an option. Make time in your schedule to video call a friend or family member and catch up with them. Not only will it make you feel better, it’s guaranteed to brighten the day of your loved one, as well!

Get excited about the little things

Many of us may feel saddened and disappointed because of a canceled wedding, vacation, or other outing we were eager to attend. It may seem like there is little to look forward to when everything has been replaced with this stay-at-home lifestyle that is almost certain to result in boredom. 

The good news is, there are still so many mini, at-home activities and events you can plan and get excited about. Whether it be hosting a game-night with your family, video calling friends, or even just watching a new movie by yourself, planning something small you can do within your home at the end of the week (or end of the day), will help you keep a positive mindset and stay grateful for the things you do have. 

Plus, think of how you can use the money you’ve saved on gas, takeout, or whatever else you’ve forgone during this time, to do something exciting. This could be anything as small as saving up for a special gift for a loved-one (or yourself), to as big as saving for a family vacation post-quarantine. Either way, it’s a great way to turn those unused dollars into something you can look forward to. 

Go out for a walk

It’s a well-known fact that engaging in some form of daily exercise is vital for mental health, as is going out in the open for sunlight and fresh air. This makes walking or running outside the perfect formula for keeping negative thoughts and emotions out the door. 

A 20-minute walk or jog during your lunch break or an after-work stroll around your neighborhood will help keep you in good spirits, so make sure to get some sunshine and exercise whenever you can. 

Keep yourself busy

Lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders are sure to induce boredom in our lives. Unfortunately, with boredom comes a restless mind, and with a restless mind often comes negative thoughts and emotions. 

That’s why it’s important now, more than ever, to keep your mind busy in whatever way possible. Whether it means keeping your ears open to a new podcast or your eyes peeled to a long-awaited book, fixating your senses on something that interests you will keep your mind focused and fixated, preventing thoughts and feelings from entering unwanted territory. 

That’s also why taking up new hobbies is especially recommended during this time. Developing an interest in something new will not only get your mind off things, but successfully learning that language or finishing that painting will make you feel productive during a time when everything feels like a blur. 

Don’t feel pressured to be extra productive

With all things said, don’t feel pressured to become a productivity wizard. Many of us may feel the need to put the extra time we have to good use, whether that be deep cleaning the house, working on that novel, or completing whatever project it is that we may be working on. While putting in extra effort to accomplish something is always encouraged, it’s equally important to give your mind the rest it deserves, especially during mentally-strenuous times. 

After all, many of us are still working just as hard as before the lockdown, so spending some downtime with yourself or a family member is always recommended. If you feel like watching TV after a long day, go for it. If you feel like putting yourself to work instead, that’s fine too. The key is to strike a balance, so you feel both accomplished and at ease. 

We hope you’ll use some of these tips to battle those negative emotions and keep yourself in good spirits! Remember, every situation can be spun differently, so make use of what you have to turn this strange period into as positive of an experience as possible!

Our fabulous intern

Krithi Sekaran is a student at Bentley University. During her time at Bentley, she has worked as a Wellness Educator, teaching fellow students the importance of physical and mental health on campus. She has helped put on numerous events related to proper stress management, sleep, self-care, and more, and hopes to continue spreading insight on the topics of health and wellness throughout her university career and beyond. Krithi likes to maintain her own well-being by reading, writing, hiking, and generally spending time in nature. 

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